State says campers are bypassing 14-night limit
By Gwendolyn Craig
The state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is working on ways to thwart campers who skirt its 14-night reservation limit, and one experiment could start at Rollins Pond Campground in the Adirondack Park.
There has been an ongoing issue, the DEC said, of users sidestepping the overnight stay limit. At an Adirondack Park Agency (APA) meeting this month, DEC staff said campers are getting “very creative with extending reservations,” from using different email addresses, to having family members add to the two-week stays. The 14-night rule applies to DEC campgrounds from July 1 to Labor Day.
Art Lussi, a board member of the agency, said he has witnessed extended stays at the Ausable Point Campground in the town of Peru on Lake Champlain.
“Our Canadian friends have taken advantage,” Lussi said. “The same families have the same site for six weeks, and it’s just not fair.”
During the coronavirus pandemic when the Canadian border was closed, Lussi said, many state residents were able to experience some of the prime camping spots at Ausable Point. Since the border has reopened, Lussi said he is frustrated to “see the same families monopolize the same lakefront sites.”
Josh Houghton, a natural resource planner with the DEC, said the monopolizing of campsites is not unique to Canadians. He sees the same issue in the Catskill Park campgrounds. It can be difficult for campground staff to address these families, he said, since staff rotate work schedules.
Staff that do see campers in violation of DEC rules, however, may ask them to leave, the department said. Campers will forfeit any fees they may have paid.
But at Rollins Pond Campground in the town of Santa Clara, the DEC is proposing a longer-term camping permit to “diffuse the situation for staff and the public,” Houghton said.
The DEC proposed the idea of a long-term permit in the draft Rollins Pond Public Campground unit management plan. Unit management plans inventory an area’s natural and physical resources, and include a list of projects the department wishes to accomplish. The plan must be reviewed by the APA, the state agency charged with long-range planning for the park. The APA decides if the plan complies with its leading policy document, the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.
To comment on unit management plans:
DEC will accept comments on the proposed management actions through Sept. 18. Comments can be submitted by mail or email to: Josh Houghton, EPS2 (NR), NYS DEC Bureau of Recreation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-5253 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The APA will accept public comments on the proposed draft plans’ conformance to the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan through Sept. 18. Comments should be sent to: Megan Phillips, Deputy Director Planning, Adirondack Park Agency, P.O. Box 99, Ray Brook, NY 12977 Email: SLMP_UMP_Comments@apa.ny.gov
The DEC is also collecting comments on management of the campgrounds. The Rollins Pond Campground Surveyis here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/RollinsDraftUMP, and the Golden Beach Campground Survey is here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GoldenDraftUMP. Survey responses will be accepted until Sept. 18.
It’s not clear how long the permit could be for, what sites it could cover and how much would be charged for it. The DEC said these things are dependent on the public’s input. The campground’s unit management plan is out for public comment, on both the DEC’s proposed activities and the master plan conformance, until Sept. 18.
The longer term permit is only proposed at Rollins Pond at this time, the DEC and APA said.
“This is unique,” said Matt McNamara, an environmental program specialist at the APA. “It is something for Rollins, but it has not been contemplated in other areas.”
Adirondack policy, in plain speak.
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